A Year in Review Letter 2020
What an unexpected year.
We have all been impacted this year by a global pandemic, a demand for long overdue racial justice and equity in our society, and more changes in our education system than could have ever been imagined. At times, it seemed impossible to keep up with the demands of our jobs, our families, our children’s schooling, and our own self-care when every day more negative news is filtered in through television, mobile phones and our computers.
However, we are full of hope for the future. Though 2020 has presented many challenges, it has also proven our resilience. With the support and direction of the Board, and through the hard work of AAGT staff & volunteers, plus the support of our members, we’ve become a stronger organization, poised to accomplish great things next year and beyond.
2020 year in review
At the start of this year, we committed to the second leg of AAGT’s strategic plan to improve our board and our programs to support sustainability, resilience, and equity as foundational pillars.
We began the year with our Annual Conference, “2020 Vision: Creators and Innovators in Gifted Education” with big plans to take what we learned and soar. Our conference was one of the largest attended in recent history, using overflow areas in Black Canyon Conference Center. It was the last time we could gather in person, and we are thankful that we were able to start this crazy year off with an amazing conference.
Renzulli announced a partnership with AAGT at the 2020 conference, offering free programming for both educators and families. We look forward to future partnerships as we grow our Business Partner Directory.
AAGT assisted SENG in hosting a mini-conference in Phoenix at the end of February. We are excited to continue partnering with them to enhance our means of supporting the social/emotional needs of our gifted community.
In an effort to showcase the talents of our gifted Arizona youth, AAGT developed “Creative Arizona”. Students have submitted photos, documents of their writings, clips of a song they wrote/sang, videos of their projects…and more! We are so impressed with our brilliant children from all over our great state.
As we turned into a virtual society in the spring, AAGT Summer Tour Task Force wondered if we would be able to offer our annual summer program. Thankfully, with the help of Dr. Brian Housand, we were able to pivot and take the tour online! Over 275 teachers were able to learn from Dr. Housand and participate in his Gifted 360 course, allowing them to introduce new curriculum and gifted education ideas back in the classroom after the summer.
AAGT has always had a strong advocacy effort in place to push for fully funding Gifted Education at $5 Million in the state budget. This year made social, economic and equity disparities that much more apparent and AAGT knows that we must make those imbalances the heart of the conversation moving forward in the 2021 legislative session.
As part of our Advocacy Efforts, the AAGT advocacy task force recognized a need to lead discussions with eminent leaders and practitioners in the field of gifted education, focusing on strategies to accommodate the unique learning differences of gifted students and address their social, emotional and equity issues during uncertain times. AAGT Informs started out as a free 10 week virtual series that was recorded and now available on our website and our Youtube Channel. Our plans are to continue offering one episode a month in 2021 – stay tuned!
In the fall, we held our very first VIRTUAL Parent Institute with Otto Siegel, where we discovered the JOYS of Being Gifted. Many of us have been at home with our gifted students in online class settings and quarantine – this seminar gave parents the tools to manage social/emotional needs of their children, keeping students engaged in virtual settings and ensuring positive energy moving forward in an uncertain school year.
In 2020, we also updated our scholarship programs for members and since the updates in July, we have been able to award four student enrichment scholarships, one Teacher Gifted Endorsement Scholarship, and one Teacher Classroom Mini-Grant!
All of this is due to the continued support of our Business Partners and our members – which we grew by over 100 new members in 2020!
Wishing all a Healthy and Prosperous 2021
At AAGT, we firmly believe in our vision to support the continuous improvement of educational opportunities for gifted and talented students commensurate with their needs and abilities.
With every program or initiative we implement, we must first consider whether it will be tangible, measureable, helpful to us and our community. Is it accessible to all four corners of Arizona? Is it something that we can learn from, feel inspired by, highlight, replicate and help others in the long run?
Remaining resilient will require every individual to adapt at a pace we might never have thought possible. But what lies ahead is also a responsibility for us as a community to design a brighter future for our gifted children/students. And together, we know that we can accomplish this.
We wish you all an abundance of health, light and hope during this holiday season.